KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim urged the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today to reconvene Parliament urgently to discuss the problem of low starting pay for fresh graduates in Malaysia.

He cited a recent study by the Higher Education Ministry that showed more graduates earning between RM1,100 and RM1,500 than at any time in the last 10 years.

“This report shows that 70 per cent of graduates in 2020 who were able to find employment would enter the workforce with wages that are below or very near the revised poverty line index for a household,” Anwar said in video posted on Facebook.

The PKR president added that this is on top of the estimated 75,000 unemployed graduates last year. Equally troubling is that this trend in low wages has been increasing for most of the last decade.

“The government cannot simply blame the Covid-19 pandemic for the lack of good employment opportunities available to recent graduates.

“The survey is another definitive proof that the Malaysian economy cannot grow and cannot prod meaningful opportunities for our people unless and until it undertakes much needed structural reforms,” he said.

Anwar said these reforms include greater transparency in public procurement, increased competition, GLC reforms, and increased access to quality education throughout the country.

“The absence of these reforms, and under the PN govt the decline in governance and transparency, has caused an exodus of high-value manufacturing and high-technology businesses from Malaysia.

“Now this bodes ill for the future of job prospects of young Malaysians, and it is likely that many will seek better job opportunities abroad, causing an even greater brain drain that will cripple our economy further,” he said.

The Port Dickson MP also criticised the recent remarks by Cabinet ministers over graduates' employment as showing PN's lack of creativity and compassion.

“After more than a year in power, PN has offered zero indication that they have the interest or ability to execute plans to reverse the negative trends which are increasingly manifest in our economy,” he said.

Anwar was referring to Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (Economics) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who recently said graduates should be thankful they are employed even with low wages, and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan who said graduates should accept employment with low wages rather than be unemployed.

“While the proper venue for deliberating on these issues is the Parliament, PN remains scared of convening the legislative body despite all other sectors of the Malaysian virtual economy being reopened.

“Given the results of the ministry's survey, it is no surprise  that PN wishes to delay the onset of Undi18. Disenfranchising this population however, is a short-term measure and would do nothing to solve the long-term problem,” he said.

Anwar urged Putrajaya to convene Parliament so that future prospects for Malaysian graduates can be debated and not left to the arbitrary decision making of an unelected government.